Senate Bill 1057 would require employers to list their hourly rates and salary rates on job listings.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require companies to advertise their pay rates in job advertisements.

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That means applicants — and also current employees — would know the starting pay of any job in the state, including public positions but also those in private companies and even temporary jobs in Hawaii. 

Senate Bill 1057 would require those disclosures. Lawmakers said the bill is meant to ensure more equity in workplace negotiations, within which women and ethnic minorities can often unknowingly be paid less than their counterparts in similar jobs.

SB 1057 passed the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee Thursday and is now on its way to a vote by the full Senate.

California, Colorado, and New York already have similar laws in place, and if SB 1057 is passed this session, Hawaii would become just the fourth state to require such pay transparency. 

The bill originally stated that all job listings would be required to follow this statute. But that was amended earlier this month to exempt applications for internal transfers or promotions with a current employer and also public employee positions that have their compensation determined by collective bargaining. 

Senate Hawaii Capitol Closing Day Sine Die
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require employers to post pay rates in job listings. (Blaze Lovell/CivilBeat/2022)

Sen. Chris Lee, who introduced the bill this session, said he couldn’t directly speak to the reason for the amendments, but is encouraged that the bill is moving along.

Lee pointed to the success that other states have had with similar legislation and said the law has been successful in leveling the playing field not only between male and female applicants but also between employees and their employers.

“I think transparency in every case has enabled not only better morale and productivity in the workplace, as employees feel like they are being treated fairly and equally, but also not being taken advantage of, or otherwise having their work not compensated fairly,” Lee said. “That’s something that here in Hawaii we do see from time to time.”

The Society of Human Resource Management Hawaii was the only entity to testify in opposition to the bill. In its submitted written testimony, the society was concerned that employers may not be able to negotiate salaries with employees anymore. 

“As human resources professionals, we believe that including an hourly rate or salary range on job postings can limit an organization’s ability to negotiate salaries with potential employees and can also severely limit the pool of qualified candidates who are willing to take the job,” the society’s testimony said.

Lee said he did not think it was a bad thing for employers to compete with one another by offering higher pay.

“Our economy is literally a competitive marketplace,” Lee said. “It’s not just companies competing to sell end-products or profit, but it’s also competition between companies to employ people in good jobs at fair wages.” 

If this bill passes, employers in other states, wanting to post job listings in Hawai’i, including those for remote work, may be required to adhere to this new regulation. To get a sense of the scale of such jobs here, there were about 20,600 remote workers in the private sector in Hawaii in 2021 who were employed by entities in other states, according to a report by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism

Who will enforce the law remains a question. Lee said the bill is still a work in progress, and he is checking with state agencies such as the state’s Attorney General’s Office and , the Department of Labor and Consumer Affairs to determine what the scope of enforcement can be.

Even if other states are not forced to follow the statute, Lee said at least workers in Hawaii will know what they can earn in the state. The information could be used to negotiate better pay with an out-of-state employer or vice versa. 

“It provides the ability to go in and meaningfully weigh different job opportunities against each other and provide more job mobility,” Lee said. “It’s merely adding a few words to a job listing, that’s it.”

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